OneFortyOne joined in the global celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February 2021. It’s a great opportunity to acknowledge the leading professionals who are contributing their expertise to the success of the forestry and timber industries.
OneFortyOne hopes that by sharing the stories of remarkable women in the industry, girls and young women are inspired to pursue one or more of the varied and satisfying careers on offer.
OneFortyOne wants to be part of the movement that promotes full and equal access to, and participation in, science for women and girls. The day is a reminder that women and girls play a critical role in science and technology communities and that their participation should be strengthened.
OneFortyOne is celebrating leading science professionals who are contributing their expertise to the industry. By exploring innovative and creative solutions our professionals are developing solutions for industry, ensuring that this climate friendly resource continues to produce everyday products for society.
Marion Hughes, Manager – Resource Planning and Analytics for OneFortyOne New Zealand is one such woman. “There are no barriers any more for women wanting to get into any of the fields available in forestry,” says Hughes. “Often the only thing that gets in the way is perception.”
Hughes still recalls a career advisor at school telling her that forestry wasn’t for women, which made her all the more committed to following her passion, combining her love of the outdoors and data, and studying forestry at university. The ability to start working during her final year of studies was a boost. “I got to visit small forest owners, measure their trees and tell them how much they were worth and advise them on the best time to harvest them.”
Hughes says that the forestry industry and OneFortyOne really value the perspective that new graduates can offer. “People who are new to the industry give us the most insight. They question why we are doing things. The rest of us just think it’s normal because it’s been done like that in the past.”
After obtaining a Bachelor of Forestry Science, Marion spent several years as a forestry consultant, working on projects in countries within Asia setting up GPS and GIS systems for forest measurement, providing information on wood availability to set up new pulp mills. She then worked as part of a forestry resources team in the Central North Island before joining OneFortyOne 19 years ago.
She now supports the OneFortyOne business in Australia and New Zealand to accurately measure and value its forest estate, ensuring the forests are harvested sustainably and that the company knows the volume of wood by quality class it has available for its customers.
Hughes and her colleagues use a range of modelling and coding software to undertake repetitive or complex tasks more efficiently and effectively. This allows them to work out key information such as how fast trees are growing, how much wood is in the estate, and how much can be cut whilst maintaining a sustainable harvesting regime. A current focus for Hughes is developing a better way to work out how much high-quality wood is within the forest resource before it is harvested.
“We want to work out how much of the high-quality wood we have within our current resource. It’s about working out the best ways that we can predict it going forward to make sure that our customers will have plenty of that wood, and also how we can grow more of that type of wood.”
Hughes lights up when she describes one of the highlights of working in the forest industry. “One of my favourite things to do is trials, either out in the forest or at the sawmills, trying to adopt new technologies. We normally get an expert in, they show us how it works, then we do the trials, and then I get to analyse the results!”
A current trial of a Resi tool (Resistograph) in the Green Triangle within OneFortyOne’s Australian operation is exciting, says Hughes, and if successful may lead to the technology being used within OneFortyOne New Zealand too. “The tool helps predict how much high-quality wood you have in your stand before you cut it down. It works by using a small drill, to capture details of a tree’s wood variability and quality. Trials like this provide a way for us to take ideas from other parts of our business and make both of our operations better.
“I love finding better ways to do things – ways that are easier or faster and provide a better outcome. We’re always striving to improve. I love that about our business.” Hughes hopes that the International Day of Women and Girls in Science encourages young people who might not have considered a career in forestry to find out more about the sector.
She says that it’s a great option given the number of scholarships that are available to support students during their studies and with work placements during university holidays and the wide range of roles in the industry. “Mapping, flying drones, photography, tree measurement, computer modelling – there are so many options for a career in forestry that most people aren’t aware of.”
Photo: Marion Hughes, Manager – Resource Planning and Analytics